Published: 11:17, 11 May 2022
| Updated: 12:42, 11 May 2022
Rebekah Vardy has told the High Court she was “just joking” following an allegation that she told her agent to leak a story about a celebrity having an affair with a footballer behind her husband’s back.
In a viral social media post in October 2019, Coleen Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
Giving evidence on the second day of the trial, Mrs Vardy was questioned about messages between her and agent Caroline Watt about an affair between a “well-known celebrity” known only as Mrs F and a footballer referred to as Mr G.
Mrs Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne told the court Mrs Vardy had texted her agent: “Omg have you seen how badly Mrs F is behaving x … I’m actually disgusted by her x” followed by a message “leak the story about her shagging G behind H’s back”.
Asked about the messages, Mrs Vardy said: “I was just joking when I said this comment.”
“Ms Watt doesn’t think you’re just joking when you say that,” Mr Sherborne replied.
The court was also told that Mrs Vardy told her agent she “wanted paying” for information about then-Chelsea player Danny Drinkwater leaving police custody after crashing his car in 2019.
Drinkwater was banned from the roads for 20 months and ordered to do 70 hours of community service after pleading guilty to drink driving.
Reading texts between her and Ms Watt, Mr Sherborne said: “You say ‘he’s only just been let out of the cells last night’ and then said you wanted paying for this.
“To which she said ‘which police station? They will need to confirm with the police station before they write it’.
“The ‘they’ she’s referring to is The Sun, isn’t it?”
Mrs Vardy confirmed “they” referred to The Sun, but, explaining the comment about being paid for information, she said: “It was a fleeting thought and one I didn’t consider any more then when I wrote it.”
“It wasn’t a serious comment,” she added.
She later said “it was something that wrongly I got involved with”.
It was speculation of just bits of information that I had heard and overheard, and also read in the press before. Yes, it doesn't look good there, I was gossiping about things that were already in the public domain. I was just gossiping
She said she apologised and that the “messages were not good”, adding it was about something that “affected me very badly in the past”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mrs Vardy told the court: “Ms Watt and I have been friends for a long time, sometimes our WhatsApps were outrageous.
“These are conversations between friends gossiping … They don’t read very well but there is always an explanation.”
Mrs Vardy also said that she was “just gossiping” when asked about messages sent to her agent about the failure of one of her husband’s then-teammates to come to training in 2018.
Mr Sherborne read a message from Mrs Vardy to Ms Watt about then-Leicester City footballer Riyad Mahrez not coming to training, telling Ms Watt “the lads are fuming”.
Mrs Vardy said: “It was speculation of just bits of information that I had heard and overheard, and also read in the press before.”
She added: “Yes, it doesn’t look good there, I was gossiping about things that were already in the public domain. I was just gossiping.”
She denied an accusation her agent passed information to The Sun about fellow Leicester players’ reaction to Mr Mahrez missing training.
When asked if Ms Watt had told the newspaper other players were “fuming” about the incident, she said: “That’s absolutely not true.”
Mrs Vardy later denied a suggestion that it was “standard practice” for her to leak private information to The Sun newspaper via Ms Watt.
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim on the basis of truth and public interest.
The court previously heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far, with the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.
The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”